In our life, we will face a variety of challenges. They may be physical or they may be someone challenging our position on a stand we have taken. We may not welcome all of the challenges we face, but we can learn to appreciate them.
How many different ways can we be challenged physically? How much time do you have? Since this is supposed to be the challenge I am thankful for, we’ll stick with those.
Work, back when I worked.
I had a fairly physically demanding job. At times I did things that technically were not my job, but were needing to be done. A lot of us did that, it kept the floor running more smoothly. During a ten hour day, it was not unusual for me to grab a set of hand trucks and move two hundred pound boxes of materials. During the process of manufacturing, there was constant movement. Squat, stand, stretch, lift, walk, repeated all through the day. It depended on the product being created as to how often this happened. To say there were days that left me feeling my age was an understatement but I also think it helped keep me healthier. I even wore a pedometer until the day I walked thirteen miles. I didn’t want to know after that.
Years ago I began taking part in Relay for Life events. At that time the main event lasted overnight. To be able to set up a team site then spend the rest of that day and all through the night was demanding to say the least. But to be at a place where you can see the night sky, to hear the calls of the night birds or other inhabitants of the dark, gives it a special feeling. When the sun comes up and you see that marker showing you’re crossing the line of accomplishment, you know it was all well worth it.
The reason I started joining Relay for Life was partly due to a battle with breast cancer. Mine was caught very early so the treatments were less invasive and extensive. I was diagnosed, had the surgery and went in for the treatments. Radiation sapped nearly every ounce of strength I had. Facing and overcoming the illness was one of the more difficult challenges but one that by the grace of God I accomplished.
That can be an ugly word right? But not always. I was told once, that no matter how physical your job may be, it doesn’t count as exercise because your body is accustomed to those movements. Exercise is something that pushes your body to greater extremes. So, I decided to start hiking, and even more precisely, hiking the trails up the side of a local mountain. One of those trails has over three hundred steps. Even as I have hiked these trails several times, I am still a long way from being in shape. One thing is for sure, that hike gets my heart rate up.
To most, that may not be a challenge. This year though, it was for me. My yard is rather large and parts of it had been long neglected. Years of being ignored made for quite the challenge in clearing and reclaiming. It also meant multiple trips to the local landfill. I uncovered several snakes, a few were even venomous but thankfully were seen in time. By the time my yard had been reclaimed I was one happy and slightly bragging camper.
I do understand and recognize that there are those who due to no fault of their own, and some who may have actually made a less than intellectual decision, have restrictions in what they are able to do. These are challenges of an entirely different sort.
Most people who know me, know where I stand on things. I am rarely challenged in my thoughts and beliefs. I also don’t tend to put myself in a position where challenges may erupt. But, I will stand my ground if I find it necessary. I do know, that it is important to understand how you feel and why on every topic important to you so you are prepared should a challenge come.
My greatest emotional challenge, has been from the death of my husband. After thirty-two years of marriage, I have had to learn how to face life as a single person. Dealing with the every day responsibilities are difficult enough. Learning how to repair plumbing and lay tile flooring was never high on my to do list. It has been the adjusting to the quiet, the emptiness of life and the lack of companionship. All of the things I had grown so accustomed to, were taken away in a moment.
Take a sheet of paper and drawn a line down the middle, draw a stick figure on each side, but hands touching on that center line. Now, tear that paper down that line and throw one side away. There you have it, a stick figure reaching to the line, but the other side, the other figure, gone. All that is left, is emptiness. And one must learn to accept and overcome the challenge of loss.
Battling our emotions can be quite the challenge. They are not a physical mountain to be climbed, or job to be done. Often, they are like a sea, each feeling a different wave fast coming in toward us. We must learn how to recognize and face each different feeling and the challenges they bring. What makes us angry, how do we deal with that anger? What makes us sad? What frustrates us? What have we dealt with in our past that has wounded our spirit? Each emotion a different challenge, bringing a different growth upon the meeting and overcoming.
Somewhat like emotional as they are more of an abstract than physical challenge. I understand, there are those who face challenges due to issues at birth, damage due to injury or misuse of chemical substances. Some can be overcome through therapy or special training. For others, it may be a never ending battle.
Personally, my mental challenges are two fold. I love the quest for knowledge. I love doing research and learning more on the various topics that intrigue me. Then, there is the battle with my own thoughts. It is true, we can be our own worst enemy. In my mind, I am never good enough, never clever enough, never worthy enough. When you feel that way, you don’t want to say too much because others have no idea where those thoughts came from. I know from whence mine came, and I fight that battle constantly.
For what challenge am I thankful? I am thankful for the challenge that brings me to a better self. The challenge that helps me be stronger, better, smarter. The challenge that brings about growth in me, so that I am better able to help others face and overcome their own personal challenges. One…step…at.. a..time.
What about you? What challenge are you thankful for?